Drought case study – Wonwondah

Title: Agriculture Victoria. Case study – Jason Pymer. Saving time and pastures with stock containment areas

Vision: Map of Victoria showing location of farm at Wonwondah

Jason Pymer:

'My name is Jason Pymer. The farm at Wonwondah, just 20 kilometres south of Horsham, and we run about 3000 sheep.'

Vision: Aerial view of Wonwondah farm

'The average rainfall here is roughly 425mls this season.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking:

'We had two years of drought, ‘15 and ’16. In ’15 we used larger pens, just small ram paddocks and old horse paddocks we had around.'

'We found it worked really well so when the grant was available we thought we’d take it on and build some permanent containment yards.'

Vision: Jason Pymer working with sheep in containment paddock — Jason Pymer speaking:

'They were a huge time-saver especially now that we’ve set up so many of them.'

Vision: Aerial views of containment yards on farm at Wonwondah

'Once we — the next drought we have everything will be in containment and we’ll be able to really concentrate on keeping our stock healthy and our time management will just be reduced massively.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking - aerial view of containment yards

'Feeding stock is just so quick, you’re just in one gate, into the next, into the next, into the next, done, versus driving from paddock to paddock shutting gates, opening gates, moving through 100 acre paddocks looking for — 50 hectare paddocks looking for the ewes, feeding them, check the dam, check for crook or sick sheep, whereas they’re all together you can keep an eye on them so much easier.'

Vision: The normal stocking rate is 500 sheep per yard

'A big improvement, wish I had have done it years ago.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking:

'Also since we’ve been containing our pastures, we’re starting to get back some of our perennials.'

'We’re seeing a bit of perennial rye, quite a bit of phalaris has come back that we haven’t seen for years, so I’d say that’s an indication of just using, rotating the pasture a bit more with the grazing, and it’s helping that side of the pastures as well.'

'So we’re getting improved pastures, and also, even though we’re in autumn lambing, so we don’t lamb in containment.'

Vision: Sheep in containment yards with silos and buildings in the background

'But by having our ewes in containment, our pastures, the moment the break comes the pastures get away quicker, we’re really noticing that.'

'So we’ve got more green feed available going into winter — if it does rain in the autumn.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking – view of trees near containment yards

'We’ve designed, the site selection for our containment area, we’ve got a lot of lovely big trees here so we try to — sheep like being in the shade, especially our fine wools.'

'So that was a priority, was to make sure the pens were in shade.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking:

'We picked a site where every pen has shade at all times of the day, and then in the afternoon there’s quite a bit of shade from just outside the pens.'

'There’s minimal trees in the actual pens which of course keeps the trees healthier.'

'And on the externals of the pens we’ve been able to have, by the site we’ve selected we’ve had quite a bit of shade which assists keeping the sheep cooler.'

Vision: Aerial view of containment yards

'It’s been proven that sheep don’t stress as much if they’ve got shade. They don’t drink as much water, they don’t need as much water.'

'They don’t have to work as hard, so animal health-wise no-brainer.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking:

'So for a bit of advice, if you’re looking at doing containment or building a containment area, one thing I’d do is take my time in selecting a site.'

Vision: Aerial view of containment yards

'I would look for somewhere where a laneway can be built.'

'You can have really good all weather access, because you never know how long they’re going to be in there.'

'Could have thunderstorms during the summertime, could have a wet drought when you’ve still got to feed stock if there’s no pasture growing.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking:

'It’s probably easier to do it in that all accessible area.'

'If you can build it close to the woolshed or sheep yards so it can be multi-use, you can use it when you’re handling large numbers of stock.'

Vision: Sheep grazing

'On a slope so it doesn’t get too wet and water can drain off.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking:

'If you’re considering a certain spot and there’s no shade, I strongly suggest getting some trees planted rather than trying to build shade, have natural shade.'

'And also something we’re looking at at the moment is building a windbreak so we can use it for when we’re shearing.'

Vision: Sheep grazing

'If a cold snap comes through we can put some sheep in there sheltered, protected.'

'They would be some of the main considerations I’d be thinking about.'

Vision: Jason Pymer speaking:

'And just have a look at how your stock walk around the area you’re thinking about.'

'Where’s the best spot for the stock to enter the yard or come out of the yard?'

'If it’s a more natural stock flow it makes it a lot easier than trying to force sheep out of the gate they don’t want to run out of.'

[Vision: Aerial view of containment yards — Jason’s advice tips listed

[Agriculture Victoria]

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Page last updated: 27 Jul 2021